The 15th Amendment

Racial Equality in Voting Rights

The Fight for the Right to Vote

After the Civil War and the abolishment of slavery in the 13th Amendment, Congress debated the rights of freed African Americans. In the 14th Amendment, former slaves were given citizenship, but the States were still permitted to withhold their right to vote on the basis of race.


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The Opposition

Those African Americans fighting for the right to vote were opposed by the former slave owners and a large majority of all people who lived in the South. With no laws restricting States from creating schemes to prevent former slaves from voting, the southern States started requiring literacy tests. Rigged to be unfair toward the former slaves, most African Americans never got the chance to vote.


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The 15th Amendment

The 15th Amendment was ratified February 3, 1870, but African Americans were still prevented by State laws requiring literacy tests until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote by declaring that no citizen of the United States will have their right to vote withheld on the basis of race, color or previous servitude.


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